Jan 29th, 2020, 07:59 AM

The Mysterious Bestiary of Paris

By Emilyn Snyder
Image Credit: Flickr/Codex Urbanus
Image Credit: Flickr/Codex Urbanus
Codex Urbanus: A One of a Kind Parisian Street Artist

Walking down the streets of Paris, there is an abundance of street art, varying from soaring, vibrant murals to tags scribbled along the sides of electrical boxes. However, that wasn't what caught my eye one early morning; it wasn't the usual colorful designs. Along Rue Buffault in the ninth arrondissement, it was the drawing of a creature. Not a normal creature, no – this was a mix between a bug and a mammal, more specifically, a grasshopper and a porcupine. It was the fantastical work of what makes up a collection called the Codex Urbanus: a bestiary of species drawn on walls with a simple felt tip marker. Starting in Montmartre, the drawings have spread, slowly filling up the city with unusual creations. All are mixes of different species from the same artist's imagination.

Each design is a combination of two creatures, cataloged as such by a combination of the animals' Latin names at the bottom of every drawing. Roughly translating to "Urban Manuscript," the art is always titled with "Codex Urbanus," which is what people have come to call the street artist. Having started in the year 2011, Codex Urbanus didn’t receive much attention until later in 2013, when he had his first show at Le Cabinet D’amateur. Afterwards, in 2014, he took part in another exposition at the Espace Dali as part of the Dali Fait le Mer group show. He was also featured in an edition of the "Opus Delits," a French book that gives spotlights to various street artists. Not unlike other graffitists, no one knows his real name, although his face is not hidden. 

Nobody is quite sure of the number of various species from his own mind that now grace the walls of the Parisian streets. Totals vary anywhere from 200 to 400, with some most likely being lost forever under the paint of the city’s clean-up crews. Only the artist himself may know. 

For an accurate look at his timeline, I would recommend following his Twitter. He is still active and posting pictures of his works once they are completed. If you are ever in the mood for a fantastical creature hunt, perhaps take a gander down the streets of Paris and see what you can discover.